BT focuses on mental health as way of boosting productivity

BT has teamed up with mental health charities and the main communications unions to launch a major programme to tackle mental health problems among its 104,000-strong workforce.

Although the telecoms giant has done a lot to promote mental health in recent years, the company admitted that it had about 500 people off sick every day with problems such as anxiety, depression and stress.

The company has worked with its trade unions to create the ‘Work Fit – Positive Mentality’ campaign, which provides guidance to its employees on how to improve their mental health both at work and at home.

BT hopes that by encouraging staff to adopt small changes to their lifestyles and by using proven techniques for increasing their resilience they will cope better with the pressures of modern living and work more creatively and productively.

The campaign has been drawn up in collaboration with two unions – Connect and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) – and with the support of the mental health charities, the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health and MIND.

The programme will demonstrate how regular exercise, healthy eating, relaxation techniques and even the support of friends and family can help to ward off depression, stress and anxiety. It will also educate staff to help reduce the stigma of mental illness and promote the range of support services that the company provides.

Dr Paul Litchfield, BT’s chief medical officer, said: “We need to help our people get mentally fit for their lives at home and at work. BT takes pride in the way it supports people who develop mental illness, but we want to go beyond that and help them avoid ill health in the first place so they can lead happier and more productive lives.”

Jeannie Drake, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “The CWU is actively involved and engaged in supporting BT’s ‘Work Fit’ programme, of which the Positive Mentality Campaign is part. It is an excellent initiative in which the union and the company are working in partnership.”

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